Since the introduction of smart light bulbs as a concept not too long ago, the once niche commodity has come a long way in its development and popularity. Today, we see myriads of options available across prices and features offered and do a pretty impressive job with the technology that they pack. To be fair, we had not seen any ground-breaking inventions in the lighting category for a really long time until these arrived.
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What are they?
Smart bulbs are essentially LED lighting fixtures that eliminate the purpose of physical switches and let you control them using your smartphones or integrate with any of your other smart devices. Amidst the general global trend of households going/ wanting to go automated, these come as a much-appreciated development over traditional light systems and are slowly gaining momentum among consumers as well. The first commercially available products of this kind, though functional and highly futuristic, were extremely expensive and hence failed to appeal to the masses. However, over a very short time, the costs have gone down drastically with more and more brands creating products in the category. As a result of this, these products have finally begun to interest more people and generate much aimed for traction in the consumer markets.
How do they work?
Technically, there are three aspects to how a smart bulb or a smart lighting system works, namely, the bulb, the hub or the smart home system, and the smart app.
1) The Bulb
The bulb itself packs a number of pieces of hardware that enable it to function the way it does. Broadly, these include the bulb itself, sensors, along with hardware for sending and receiving signals using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, or any other transmission media that the bulb uses.
2) The Hub/ Smart Home System
This is basically a central unit that plugs into your Wi-Fi router, using which you can connect all the smart bulbs in your home and control them together. This is extremely useful as it unlocks the complete potential of the smart lights and lets you change the mood of the room with one click or swipe, or even turn all of them off as you leave the house without going through the hassle of running from room to room turning off the switches. Some of the smart light systems require you to purchase a separate hub, while some do not require a bridge and connect directly to your smart home devices like Amazons Alexa,
Google Assistant, Apple Homekit, Samsung SmartThings, etc. Although some bulbs do not require any hub or central system to connect which brings down the overall costs, it drastically reduces the functionality and also takes the focus away from the whole concept of a smart automated home.
3) The Smart App
Depending on which brand lights you buy, you will be able to install a corresponding app on your smartphone to control all the shenanigans of the smart lights. The previously complex process of setting up the app and connecting the lights has made way for a much more simplified version now where you merely have to pair the bulbs to your smartphone by pressing a button on either device ( the specifics might differ for different brands). After the app recognizes a bulb, you can assign a ‘name’ and a ‘room’ to it to be able to better group, organize, and quickly access the different light functionalities later. You can connect your smartphone to the bulb using a host of media like Wi-Fi, Zigbee, or Bluetooth depending on what the bulb supports.
These three pieces of technology, active on essentially three different platforms work together to make the smart light system.
This is one category of products that boasts of a ton of benefits with the only real limitation being of the price, which, going by the current trend, is also slated to reduce further. The perks of smart bulbs are as follows:
- Turn lights on/off remotely: A smart bulb lets you turn it on or off without having to leave your bed with just a simple toggle on your smartphone. Not just that, if you have a bulb system with a hub that supports the feature, you can control your lights even when you are not home.
- Energy Conservation: Even though this might look like it is not a big change from traditional LEDs who have more or less the same energy consumptions, studies have shown that having a smart lighting system does in fact reduce your consumption. This can be attributed to the ability to be able to turn a light off remotely, and the reduction of chances that you would mistakenly leave a light on overnight.
- Voice Commands: One of the coolest things associated with smart lights is their integration with smart assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant and using voice commands to change the house’s lighting conditions. No matter how young or old you are, it is bound to bring a smile to your face when you demand your room lights to turn on and it magically happens.
- Schedule and Control: Almost every app for smart lights allows the user to set up varying patterns of changes as per different criteria. For instance, you might set your room lights to turn on at exactly six in the evening every day or your kitchen lights to turn on when someone walks in, and it would happen just that way. Moreover, it lets you have complete control over your house’s lighting conditions without having to move anything but your fingers, and that is something definitely worth having a piece of!
Best Options to Buy
1) Philips Hue White and Colour Ambiance
Philips was one of the first brands to come up with a commercially available smart light bulb system, and because of that the products now have a unique level of refinement in the experience they provide. Even though they are fairly expensive and require a hub to connect which only adds to the price, these bulbs last very long and the range of compatible products that Philips offers is unmatched in the industry. Moreover, the amount of customizations that their smart app provides is unbelievable, including abilities to sync with TV and games for a truly immersive experience. The bulb is available from ₹900 on Amazon.
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2) Wipro Wi-Fi Enable Smart LED Bulb
One of the cheapest and best – reviewed smart bulbs on Amazon, Wipro’s smart bulbs come with Wi-Fi and in multiple output color options along with white shades. Moreover, these are also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant which makes these a steal for the price. Two of the available options are the 9 Watt bulb which is available at ₹599 and the 12 Watt variant which is for ₹899.
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3) Syska 12-Watt B-22 Wi-Fi Enabled Smart LED Bulb
Next on this list is the Syska B-22 smart bulb, which again is one of the best smart bulbs available for purchase at present. This comes with features that include voice control using Alexa and Google Assistant, multiple color shades, and a very responsive app. Moreover, this also allows the user to group Syska smart lights and operate them together from the app itself and eliminates the use of any central hub which makes this a really smart purchase as well. This model is available at Amazon from ₹699.
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4) TP-Link LB130 Wi-Fi SmartLight
Finally, we have the smart bulb from TP-Link, or as they like to call it, SmartLight. This bulb also does not require a hub and offers remote and voice controls using Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Microsoft Cortana. Not just that, the Kasa app which is used to control these lights is extremely functional and is one of the main reasons why this product has gained popularity. Even though is more costly than other bulbs on the list, it offers only white light with dimming features from soft white to daylight. At present, it is available for purchase at ₹3779 from Amazon.
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One of the major sources of irritation for people is when they leave their lights on in a rush and have to spend entire days at work feeling guilty, smart bulbs are definitely a very effective solution to that. If you are someone who gets annoyed at the thought of getting out of bed to turn off a light in the middle of the night because you forgot to do so, these definitely are for you. However, even if you are not forgetful and do not mind getting up, there is a very high probability that you are going to be blown away when you see your lights turn on with you asking Alexa to turn them on!
Smart bulbs, therefore, definitely look like one of those things that are going to take the world by storm very soon and as the prices become more affordable, everybody would want them. The question then becomes whether you want to become the first among your friends to show off smart lights or want to wait for them to become more affordable, and neither is the wrong option!
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Do they work without internet?
without an internet connection as well.
Do smart bulb fit in regular bulb fixtures?
into your existing bulb’s fixture.
Are smart bulbs energy efficient?
lamps. However, owing to the remote abilities of switching them on and off, these tend to
save more on your bills than a simple LED as well.
Can I use smart bulbs/lights outdoors?
function as the ones indoors as long as they meet their requirements.
What is the average lifespan of a Smart Bulb?
depending on the product.